Big question

DougJ:

I’ve touched on this before, and you all had a lot of interesting things to say, so I’ll just ask outright: how do you talk to other liberals about politics?

Here’s what I mean. Most people I talk to are about as far left as me on the issues. But they still think some combination of the following: (a) liberals like Liz Warren are too shrill and should just be more polite, (b) both sides are too partisan and need to compromise, and© David Brooks/Tom Friedman/Fareed Zakaria make a lot of good points about how we should be more like China and make the middle-class suffer more.

I tell them that (a) you have to fight hard in politics, not just bend over all the time, (b) it’s strange they think Democrats are too far to the left when they themselves are way to the left of the Democratic party at the national level, and© that our pundit class consists primarily of know nothing sociopaths.

But I rarely make much of a dent. How can we convince other liberals to adopt a worldview that is more in line with the reality of contemporary American society? I don’t know.

Well, neither do I. Although it is something that I think about a lot. In the comments, which are worth reading, there are more than a few ideas: steady supply of information, knowledge of statistics to immediately substantiate an argument, forcing people to read blogs like Balloon Juice, waging a war against ironic detachment, being a condescending prick and impaling the heads of Bobo and Tom Friedman on stakes in Times Square, among other solutions.

Put me down for the first four, if only because the fifth one I doubt will persuade many people and I’m pretty sure the last one, appealing though it may be, would violate some sort of zoning ordnance.

Obviously, I’m ultimately in the same boat as DougJ, ‘cuz while I think the best, surest way to convince people is a steady supply of reading material backed up by conversations about this stuff over a long period of time, that’s just not feasible with most people. As a couple of the commenters note, most people just don’t give enough of a shit about politics for that to work. This is even the case for committed Democrats.

And of the Democrats who are committed and do care, I think very few of them read “alternative” sources that escape the suffocating Villager Versailles funnel. I’m never met someone in my entire life of my age group that reads BJ, Bob Somerby or Kevin Drum. I may have met people who do, and I admittedly don’t chat up very many people about the subject for the very reason that DougJ has written this post, but I still think that the number of people who read these “alternative” sources is small.

But there are girls from my group of friends in high school that lurved the HuffPo. One of them linked a Dana Milbank column on my fb wall some months ago. These are all smart girls who lean liberal. But I don’t need Dana Milbank to tell me that Eric Cantor is acting like an asshat. I’d never link to a Lord Dowdinpantz column, because I know enough to know that Dana Milbank is a douchebag. But I’m betting this girl had never even heard of him before she saw that column.

More than anything, I think, what’s most important about reading sites like Balloon Juice, the Daily Howler, Driftglass, Digby, Eschaton, Greenwald and the rest of the usual suspects is the complete lack of respect for our press corpse. I once thought that the NYT and WaPo were good, if flawed, sources. The more you read, though, on the aforementioned sites and similar ones, the more you realize that the complete lack of respect is for good reason.

So, step one is to have people engaged. Step two is to have them reading these sites. How do we do that? No damn idea.

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